Things a 12-Year-Old Should Know

There are certain things a 12-year-old should know. A good parent tries to expose their children to new and different experiences.

Over the course of early and middle childhood, a kid picks up a lot from living in a household. We’ve created this checklist to give you some ideas as to how your child is progressing and to assess if there are some activities you could be encouraging.

And, don’t worry if they haven’t done everything — there’s always time to learn.

43 Things Every 12-Year-Old Should Know.

What Every 12-Year-Old Should Experience

Here are some skills that every 12-year-old should know.

1.) Bait a hook and catch a fish.

Fishing combines patience, a little skill, and some luck. And, for whatever reason, some kids just love it.

2.) Own a library card and used it.

Still, owning a library card is the best deal in the free world. A “free” card gives you access to millions of stories. Get your children to the library early and often.

3.) How to play chess.

The motto of the chess federation is “Gens una sumus,” which means, “We are one people.” Introduce your child to this select group.

Fun fact: Chess is an acronym. Chariot (rook), Horse (knight), Elephant (bishop), and Soldiers (pawns).

4.) How to play with a baby.

Earning a smile from a baby is an art form. Most kids are naturally good at it.

5.) Care for a pet or a plant.

Teaching responsibility by caretaking teaches important lessons.

6.) How to Hula Hoop.

This is a right of childhood. You can purchase a hula hoop on for about $10 — worth every penny.

7.) Make a grilled cheese sandwich.

Learning how to cook is a lifetime skill. Start with an easy lunch meal like a grilled cheese sandwich.

How to make a grilled cheese sandwich

Stuff Kids Should Know

8.) Shuffle a deck of cards with some style.

You can always tell the kids whose parents didn’t play cards with them because they don’t know how to shuffle. If you don’t know how yourself, go to YouTube and learn. Then, work with your child. While you’re at it, learn a few games like Crazy 8’s, King’s Corners, and War.

9.) Throw a ball with the right form.

This is the true separator when picking teams at recess. Proper throwing form helps in a variety of sports including baseball, basketball, and football. And, a good arm is a tremendous asset when playing dodgeball.

10.) Swim a quarter of a mile.

Knowing how to swim not only builds confidence and can save a life, but it’s also a great form of exercise. Start the swim lessons early.

11.) How to write a letter, address an envelope, and mail it.

In our digital age of texts and emails, the act of sending a nice letter via the U.S. Postal Service is a struggle for today’s college kid (it seems). Have your kids practice by sending thank-you letters to friends and family after their birthdays.

The Basics

12.) Clean their own room.

Cleanliness is next to Godliness. Knowing how to learn your room is a great skill to have.

13.) Do a load of laundry from start to finish.

Learning how to live when your child goes away to college begins young. It starts with laundry.

14.) How to tell a joke.

Kids love jokes. Have them practice by telling family members at the dinner table.

15.) How to reboot a computer.

Any customer service person that works at a computer company will tell you that rebooting fixes 90% of the problems. Make sure they know that early in the process.

16.) Maintain a calendar.

Being able to plan activities in advance takes some skills. Help your children by starting them out young.

17.) How to introduce themselves to adults.

Some kids can be shy, but with practice, introductions will come more naturally.

18.) Express gratitude to parents.

Expressing gratitude to parents, teachers, family members, and friends is a big part of having good manners.

19.) How to change a light bulb.

When teaching a child how to change a light bulb, it’s a great time to work in a light bulb joke. Remember, turn the electricity off when demonstrating. It’s a skill that every 12-year-old should know.

20.) Attempt to use chopsticks for a meal.

Introduce your children to other ways of doing things. If you’re eating out at a Chinese restaurant, have them try eating with chopsticks.

Fun Stuff

21.) Blow a bubble with gum.

Learning how to blow a bubble in my neighborhood was a big deal. I can’t imagine that’s changed.

22.) Learn how to whistle.

In addition to being able to flag down a taxi downtown, knowing how to whistle a tune can help a child entertain themselves when working outdoors.

23.) Buy groceries.

Stocking up the fridge is a part of life. A lot can be learned from selecting products to purchase, comparing prices, and handling the transaction at your local grocery store.

24.) How to play Monopoly.

Probably the standard group board game that everyone should play at least a few times. The characters, properties, and gameplay are so iconic, every kid should have the experience.

How to play Monopoly.

Experiences Every Child Should Have

25.) Take personal responsibility for their homework.

Don’t be the lawnmower parent who tries to mow down every issue or problem for a child. At a certain age, kids should be responsible for their own homework with just occasional help.

26.) Know when and how to use “911.”

It can be life-saving, and it’s something that every 12-year-old should know.

27.) How to set a table.

Forks on the left, knives and spoons on the right, etc., etc. Lots of practice is encouraged until kids know how to set a table inside out.

28.) How to run a lemonade stand including making change.

Do you want your kid to be an entrepreneur? Start off by having them sell lemonade in the neighborhood. Lots to be learned from making a good product to marketing and sales.

29.) Make a water balloon.

On a hot summer day, this is an excellent lesson to be learned. Your kids will like this one.

Life Skills

30.) How to take a bus.

The joys of public transportation should be enjoyed by everyone.

31.) How to stand up for themselves.

This can be a tough one and extend to many lessons. But, throughout a person’s life, they’ll be times when they might need to ask for a raise, stand up to a bully, or look out for themselves. Reinforcing this message with appropriate kids’ books might help.

32.) How to do the dishes.

The rule at our house is that the cook doesn’t do the dishes. Regular scheduled dishes activities for children help them understand the importance of this activity.

33.) How to tell time with an analog clock.

It’s a lost art with digital clocks and watches, but knowing how to tell time is still a must-know.

How to tell time.

Skills Your Child Needs To Know

34.) What to pack for a 5-mile hike in the woods.

Water, sunscreen, food, backpack, and what else?

35.) Sign their name in cursive.

Practice makes perfect when writing with the letter connected. Here are some tips on writing in cursive.

36.) How to wait and save money for a bigger purchase.

Delayed gratification is what it’s all about. Best to learn this lesson at a young age.

37.) How to frame a photograph with a camera.

With smartphone cameras, a lot of kids are taking a lot of photos. Give them some basics so they finish with a better end product.

38.) Get up for school on their own.

Personal responsibility is what it’s all about. A 12-year-old should know how to set an alarm and get up for school every day.

Enjoy the Day

39.) How to spend a day without screen time.

With iPads, phones, and TVs, kids can spend a lot of time in front of a monitor. Show them how to have fun without screen time. You know, it can be a blast!

40.) Build with Legos.

Creative, open-ended play doesn’t get much better than Legos for kids. Show them how and then let them create.

41.) How to admit a mistake.

Maybe the best way to teach this concept is through modeling.

42.) How to read a map.

With Google maps on smartphones and similar technology in many cars, there are not that many times when need to know how to read a map. But, still, there are times.

Bonus points if you teach them how to fold a traditional road map correctly.

43.) Babysit a younger child for short time periods.

Because, who knows, before long they might have kids have their own. Empathy, patience, and leadership skills can be fine-tuned when a child is placed in charge of watching another kid.

By Mike O’Halloran

Mike is a writer and co-founder of ListCaboodle.


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